The Great Barns of Yesteryear

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But the DelBiancos had more in mind than the run-of-the-mill barn – they wanted something special to view in their backyard. Rather than calling the first contractor they found in a phone book, the couple sought out the perfect builder.

“I called an Amish friend of mine and asked her, ‘Who does the best horse barn building you know of?’“   Jane said. “And she told me hands down, it was Sylvan.”

“I called an Amish friend of mine and asked her, ‘Who does the best horse barn building you know of?’“   Jane said. “And she told me hands down, it was Sylvan.”

Sylvan Stoltzfus is the owner and operator of Sylvan Stoltzfus Builders, a company that builds custom horse barns, garages and other structures. In five years of business, Stoltzfus has personally tended to the building of over 70 barns, garages and riding arenas.

“I build a barn the waySylvan Stoltzfus Builders, LLC my customer wants it,”    Stoltzfus said, “but if I can modify it so that it looks better, I will work with the customer to do so.”     Jane said Sylvan did just that with her barn. “My dad grew up working on farms, and so he helped make the plans for our barn. Sylvan took our ideas and his ideas, and he made it happen.”

The secret to Sylvan’s success is not only his attention to detail – it’s also the help he receives from his crew of carpenters. “The guys take a lot of pride in their work, we make sure we do it right,”   he said. “There have been times where they will refuse to [fulfill a design request] because they knew it wouldn’t work out – they make sure their finished product is the best it can be.”

Stoltzfus and his crew devote much of their time to their work. Most of the men, including   Stoltzfus, are Amish, and they commute to their work sites every day from Paradise – 90 minutes each way, for the DelBiancos.

The DelBiancos’ barn took approximately seven weeks to finish. The building took longer to erect because of the poor weather conditions and less- than- normal manpower. Three or four men worked at the DelBiancos’ barn each day, as opposed to the crew of seven or eight Stoltzfus typically uses.

The men worked with the DelBiancos to build the structure they wanted, including keeping their father’s wishes in mind. “My dad died partway through the construction. When he died, we flew an American flag from the barn’s roof in honor of him – and the men kept it up until the barn was finished,”   Jane said.

Function was an important goal for the DelBianco “We tried to make the barn available for use with horses,”   Jane said.  Stoltzfus designed the barn with an open plan – only two horse stalls were completed, used to house the DelBianco ‘ prize-winning goats, but future owners of the barn have only to erect a few simple walls to complete another four stalls.

In addition, the barn features a wash stall and tack room sized for horses, and the barn’s flooring was laid out as would be horse barn flooring.  Part of the loft will ultimately house David’s office, though the DelBianco children have already claimed the majority for their own purposes. “The kids come out here in the evening and hang out for hours; they love it,”   Jane said.

“We asked them what they wanted to have in the loft – and of all things, they said they wanted a disco ball. So we have a disco ball in our barn.”

Every part of the barn is handcrafted, which is Jane’s favorite aspect of the structure. “The arches on the front of the barn are cut by hand, and you can see the imperfections if you look closely – I love that,”   she said. “It’s a wonderful opposite of all the cookie-cutter buildings you see around here now.”

“Stoltzfus’ father even contributed to the handcrafted details”

He presented the DelBiancos with a plaque, which reads, “Built by Sylvan Stoltzfus Builders for the DelBianco Family – 2003,”    to be hung inside the barn. Jane loved the plaque because “if we move any time in the future, Dave can take the plaque with him as a special keepsake.”

The DelBiancos have nothing but praise for the man who turned their barn dreams into reality.

“It’s incredible, the work Sylvan and his builders have done – every nail is perfect,”   Jane said.

“No one has come by [to see the barn] that hasn’t raved about it.”

Stoltzfus was pleased to hear Jane’s comment – but he wasn’t surprised.

“My goal is that we don’t have customers talk about our barns. We want them to rave about our barns,”   he said.

Since the barn’s completion, the DelBiancos have invited many people to inspect their barn – especially those who are interested in hiring Stoltzfus. They loved the experience of watching the Amish crew build their custom barn, and Jane hopes many more people find the opportunity to have that same experience.

“The barn was our dream – and Sylvan made it perfect,”   she said.

By Breanne Cook SPECIAL TO THE PATRIOT (the Doylestown PATRIOT)